Rewriting history and fairy tales

I feel dishonest, I feel manipulative. But we change just about every book in the house because the content just isn’t appropriate for a toddler.
The troll in the Billy Goats Gruff, at least here, is a “great, big, silly troll” who pretends he’s going to eat goats up, but really just wants to go swimming.
The wolf in Little Red Riding Hood is proud of his huge mouth, for it’s all the better to kiss you with.
The coyote in The Three Little Pigs just wants to eat all the pigs’ cookies, and when he can’t get into the brick house, the pigs eat the cookies themselves.
Even in Where The Wild Things are, the monsters gnash their teeth and roll their eyes and show their claws, none of which is horrible. And Max isn’t sent to bed without supper. He just goes to bed.
I don’t like that I have to warn other people to read our books “correctly.” But I also don’t like that Ming Lo’s wife never has a name, even though she has just as many lines and pages as Ming Lo, and even when she does ust as much to move the mountain. So in our house she’s Sing Lo. Because my son isn’t going to grow up thinking the world is scary (he’ll find that soon enough) or that woman are just “so-and-so’s wife.”

2 thoughts on “Rewriting history and fairy tales

  1. I’m with you. I’m a big “translator.” I remember when I read one of the “Cat in the Hat” books where it says they had to “Kill those spots!” It says “kill” a bunch of times and I think I would just skip those pages. Who wants a toddler running around saying, “Kill! Kill!” Sigh. They’ll learn all those words too soon as it is.

  2. Absolutely agreed! But at what point do we allow them to read the books as are? The last thing I want is for our children to have nightmares because of books. I’m still afraid of Wee Willy Winky and he’s not even supposed to be scary! But there is a point to the scariness of fairy tales. I can’t explain what that point is since I have not yet finished reading The Uses of Enchantment. But apparently they serve a very useful purpose. So, when, when do we stop sheltering and rewriting our books? I say when they’re 16, but I’m probably wrong. Ugh.

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